Experience and Experiment in Ankara, Turkey Embassy

By Ambassador Dhanojak Obongo

November 19, 2013 (SSNA) — Prior joining  the foreign service , I was working as a secondary school teacher immediately after my graduation in 1986-1987 from the Evangelical Theological Seminary Cairo, Egypt, teaching Christian Religious Education ( CRE)at Maridi Girls Secondary school / Khartoum, Sudan with the GoS( 19987-1991)., at the same time I was working with the British aid agency call Christian Outreach/ Uk as an Administrator from 19987-1991.

In 1992- 1994 I joined the United Nations /World Food Program / Operation Lifeline Sudan/ Northern Sector (UN/WPF/OLS) as a Relief Worker and Food Mentor Khartoum, Sudan and I posted to Pochalla, Jonglei State after Khartoum regime took over Pochalla from SPLA/M.

Due to  political persecution and attempt on my life by the GoS agents government on 25th July 1994 ,I scaped by night from Pochalla crossing Ethiopian border to Gambella, Ethiopia .After two walking days we arrived Pinyudo, Ethiopia , and the following day we proceed to Gambella the headquarters of Region 12, noting here that, Gambella Region is predominately was ruled by the Anyuak ethnic elite , which the author belong too.

After, I escaped the UN/WFP/ OLS in Khartoum discovered that, they are not receiving any messages from for few days, thus, they have to inform all the UN/WFP/OLS that, Dhanojak has disappeared from Pochalla.After, few days they were told by the UN/WFP office in Addis Ababa that, Dhanojak is in prison in Gambella.I was accused that, I’m an SPLA officer, despite that I showed the Ethiopian security authorities my UN/ WFP identity card, then I was imprisoned for six months without charges with my another three colleagues Mr. Moses Ajak( Senior Local Administrator), Mr. Ojo Okony Okango( Police Sergeant) and late Thomas Owar Daniel( Student), both official were working in Pochalla County.

After, six months we were released without any charges, and we went to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) Gambella branch seeking political asylum from the Ethiopian Government, which was given to us and we were transported to be settled in Pinyudo refugee camp.

However, I decided to go to Addis Ababa with hope that, I will be restated to my job by the UN/WFP, which did not materialized.Futhermore; I was given a refugee status as an urban refugee in Addis Ababa city.

In 1995, I was recommended by my Church than the Presbyterian Church of Sudan (PCOS) liberated areas Associate/ Moderator Rt.Rev.Mathew Mathiang Deang to work with the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) liberated areas as a Relief Co-ordinator for Upper Nile Region from( 1995-1997) .  

In 1997, I managed to get opportunity for resettlement in third country in Brisbane, Australia as a political refugee. In 2005 , I was appointed an MP by the GOSS in Jongeli State Transitional Assembly.

In 2005 when peace was reached between the SPLM and GoS, as it’s was stipulated in the CPA the South Sudan will 20% South Sudanese representation in all the national Ministries including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAF) which was given the SPLM and Dr. Lam Akol become the first South Sudanese  Minister of Foreign Affairs was the most experienced and competent gentleman, and he was educated in   Britain , plus he was the first South Sudanese to implement his quota among another seven South Sudanese Ministers.

Thus, in 2006, I was among those who applied and sent my CV.After screening and assessment of credentials, I was appointed at the rank of Minister plenipotentiary. The first assignment directorate in the MFA was the Directorate of Protocol, who was headed by H.E Amb.Ali Yousif a liberal Northern Sudanese, and then I become the Deputy Director of Ceremonies 2007-2009.  

On 9th July 2009, I was posted to Ankara, Turkey as the first ever South Sudanese from the MFA to be posted to this country as Deputy Chief of Mission. I struggled and debated with myself whether I take it or not.

However, after consult ting my wife and some closed friends I was advised to take the position. Plus ,I took it for three reasons-:

1. I did not have somebody to back me up in both the national Government as well as in the GOSS (It’s whom you know, and not what you know).

2. Financial hardship ( I was getting seven hundred Sudanese Pound per month equivalent to three hundred US Dollars ($300.00).

3. Getting experience which was the most important factor among the above mentioned three reasons.

Prior my departure to Ankara, I heard that, Amb.Omar Hider Abuziad was nominated as designated Ambassador of Sudan to Ankara, Turkey, and he was waiting for his AGRE’MENT from Turkish Government.

So, I call him to introduce myself to him.

I met him over cup of coffee, and I told him that, I will be travelling on 7th July .He responded that, he’s very happy work with me, and he said that, he hope our working relationship will be cordial and friendly. From my side I assured him that, you will enjoy my working relations.Infact, Amb.Omar Abuzaid is somebody I has so much respect for him.

Prior, he went consulted my former Director General of Protocol about my behavior as well as work relations with my colleagues.

In fact, when he arrived after one month of my arrival and being in-charge as a Charg’e de’Affaires .And we commencing our work, in six months, he calls me for a meeting with other diplomats and he expressed his gratitude and thank to me, and he said that,” I was not expecting a South Sudanese to have pleasant and cordial working relations, I although I thought our working relations will be difficult one and challenging”.

Furthermore, to justify my good work relations with H.E Amb.Aubzaid , we have an exchanged cup of tea in his house sometime and sometime in my house, this good relation was extended our families too, when I’m out of my house and my colleagues South Sudanese diplomats called the house and find my wife , they will ask where is Dhano, My wife respond they that, Dhano went out with the Chief of Mission, surprisingly!, and asked! Is this Chief of Mission not Northern Sudanese, he’s? . Moreover, Amb.Abuzaid has good system that, every morning when the diplomats arrived in the Embassy he, will have cup of tea together with them, and exchanges views on various diplomatic matters for thirty minutes, and after that every diplomat will go and commence his job.

This cordial relations developed very well until ,March, 2011 the time the results of referendum was declared as separation the South Sudan from the Sudan, and South Sudanese diplomats were required to report to the MFA headquarters.

On December 3o, 2010, I was sitting with H.E Amb.Abuzaid, having tea together, he’s Secretary received a call from the Turkish MFA , asking , they want to speak to Deputy Chief of Mission from South Sudan, so the Secretary came and told that, there is a phone for me from the MFA, and he to speak particularly to me. I asked he, he told me please, go ahead.

The Turkish MFA asked me that, we have a Diplomat, who is nominated to be Consul in Juba and as well as to monitor the referendum and he said, the got an approval papers from the MFA in Khartoum.

Ok, gave me some time and I will be back to you. I went shared this with H.E Amb.Abuzaid.He told let them sent you all the papers work. I went back and told the person and the sent all papers work to the Embassy, and was preceded immediately, despite that, the Chief of Mission at begging was hesitating. The Diplomat who was nominated was Mr. Ahmed Ergin, who later on, when the South Sudan became an independence , he became the first ever Turkish Ambassador to South Sudan and Amb.John Gai yoah became the first ever South Sudanese Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey immediately.

Frankly speaking, Amb.Abuzaid treated me with humane, respect and friendship, something as a South Sudanese I was not expecting from a Northern Sudanes.Some of South Sudanese diplomats who were working in other Sudanese Embassies were complaining to me how they were mistreated. Northern Sudanese socially, they are very good, but, politically, they are very bad indeed. During 1960s, one of the South Sudanese politician put it that, “a good Northern Sudanese, is the dead one”.

Sometime, during my work experience and experiment in the Embassy, as Northern Sudanese Diplomats , want they want to discuss some sensitive issues, they opted to go out, and I will feel it.

In October 2010, Hon.Mr. Ali Ahamed Karti, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Islamist regime, was invited by his counterpart Dr.Ahmed Dauo Ogolo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkish, for two days state visit. I was included in the delegation, something I was not expecting. From Minister of Foreign Affairs there was Amb.Majak Philemon Majok, the Director of European Affairs a South Sudanese. The second day, we had meeting with President Abhdalla Galla , the President of the Republic of Turkey, and the meeting centered on the political development s in Sudan in general and South Sudan in particular focusing on referendum. From President Gall, I can see that, he was well briefed by his MFA .He, asked Hon.Karti, please, tell me what is the percentage of the South Sudanese who may voted for secession?.Mr.Karti, responded by saying that, only handful of hands, no more. I was about to laugh, but I controlled myself, because I know he not telling the truth. I knew that, if the referendum was going to be fair and transparent, South Sudanese will vote with more than 80%, and exactly, my predication came right, it was 98%. Outcome.

Ambassador Dhanojak Obongo is currently serving as Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan in Washington, D.C., USA. He can be reached via email: [email protected]

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